American Airlines Eyes Transatlantic A321XLR Flights

The Vice President of network and schedule planning for American Airlines has confirmed that the airline could deploy its Airbus A321XLRs on Transatlantic routes. The US cities most likely to launch these flights are Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, and Chicago. The first A321XLR will join the fleet in 2023.

American Airlines could use its A321XLRs for transatlantic crossings to Europe. Photo: Airbus

Speaking to FlightGlobal.com earlier this week, Brian Znotins, American’s Vice President of network and schedule planning, confirmed the decision. American Airlines is likely to take delivery of its first A321XLR in 2023. According to Znotins, American will probably deploy the aircraft on transatlantic flights to help the US reconnect with the rest of the world after a difficult year.

Thanks to its 4,700NM (8,704km), the A321XLR is ideal for connecting US cities with European destinations. In all likelihood, American would base its new fleet of A321XLRs out of Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, and Chicago.

Znotins went on to confirm to FlightGlobal.com that American Airlines is looking to grow its Philadelphia network. The airline will add more direct routes to popular European destinations using the A321XLR.

American will likely base its new A321XLRs out of east coast cities such as charlotte, or Philadelphia. Photo: Charlotte Douglas International Airport

American’s new A321XLRs

American was one of the first airlines to opt for the A321XLR. It initially ordered 20 of the type and converted an existing order for 30 A321neos into the longer-range variant. If all goes to plan, of the 50 on order, the first eight should arrive in 2023. A further 22 aircraft will arrive in 2024, and the remaining 20 arriving in 2025.

The A321XLRs will likely be deployed on routes previously served by the airlines Boeing 757s and 767s, which it is in the process of retiring. The new A321XLRs are perfect for the airline to fly from east coast US cities to secondary European markets like Dublin, Prague, and Budapest. If several of the type is based in Philadelphia, the airline could also deploy them on routes to destinations in Northern Africa or South America.

The aircraft is ideally suited to fly routes that don’t have enough demand for the larger widebody aircraft. However, daily flights or twice daily flights to some European Destinations could be a great addition to the American Airlines fleet.

Some people are concerned about the customer experience on a narrowbody aircraft on long-haul flights. Lie-flat beds should help. Photo: American Airlines

The A321XLR on long-haul flights

A lot of people are very excited about the new A321XLR. However, some, including Qatar Airways,  doubt a narrowbody aircraft will give a good passenger experience for a nine-hour flight. But American Airlines has said density is not the priority for the seat configuration.

The airline has hinted that it will include lie-flat business class beds with direct aisle access. The new A321XLR could also have a decent premium economy to help boost the customer experience on long flights. Of course, this would mean sacrificing passenger numbers in economy seating.

Of course, launching direct point-to-point flights on an A321XLR may appeal to passengers more than the traditional hub-and-spoke of connecting through a major hub. Are passengers willing to sit for ten hours in a narrowbody if it means only taking one flight? We’ll have to wait until 2023 to find out.

What do you think of the A321XLR? Would you be happy in an economy seat for ten hours? We’d love to know what you think, so get in touch in the comments.


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